City Admits THERE IS NO VALUE ENGINEERING STUDY—
Mayor Bill de Blasio cited this study in 2018 as the reason to demolish East River Park
New York, January 9, 2021—
In a reply Friday to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, NYC’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) stated that the City’s Value Engineering Report on the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan could not be sent because:
“DDC’s search of agency records revealed no responsive documents for [the FOIL] request.”
This means that the present massive $1.45 billion plan lacks the basic justification for the change that doubled the cost and destruction.
According to a “Fact Sheet” from de Blasio’s office on Sept. 28, 2018, “The adoption of the new design follows a value engineering study performed earlier this year and a review of the project by a panel of experts with experience from around the nation.
”When an independent analyst from the Dutch firm, Deltares, hired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, reviewed the present ESCR plan (Alternative 4) in 2019, he also requested this Value Engineering Report: “The ‘value engineering report’ leads to the conclusion that Alternative 4 can be completed faster and with a greater degree of certainty,” he wrote. However, he never saw the document. “This value engineering report is not publicly available,” he noted.
This nonexistent Value Engineering Study and invisible review by a panel of experts paved the way for the new plan and scrapped a less destructive plan that had been developed over years of community and city joint planning.The cost of the ESCR doubled. It would now completely raze the 57-acre East River Park, kill approximately 1,000 mature trees and all other vegetation in the 81-year-old park, add a million tons of fill to make it eight feet higher, and then rebuild the park on top.
There has been a sustained outcry from community members and over 14,000 signers of petitions opposing the plan, including 2,000 NYCHA residents, who will be disproportionately affected. Advocates call for flood control that will not completely destroy the park as well as interim flood protection and robust alternate park spaces during the years of construction.
Community members also charge the City with environmental racism, as NYCHA residents who live adjacent to the park will bear the brunt of the adverse effects from the construction. For example, NYCHA Baruch Houses: 68% LatinX; 12% Black; 16% Asian; and 2% white. 36.3% are below poverty; over 25% have a disability.
“Due to this latest news, we demand the city stop the ESCR plan so it can be further reviewed,” says Fannie Ip of East River Park Action. “This is not the “Greener, More Equitable” NYC, which the de Blasio administration has repeatedly promised.”
Contact: Fannie Ip
Mayor de Blasio’s Sept. 28, 2018, “Fact Sheet”: https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/493-18/fact-sheet-de-blasio-administration-faster- updated-plan-east-side-coastal
Deltares Report: https://www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/East-Side-Coastal-Resiliency-Project-Review-final.pdf
Copy of the reply to the FOIL and to the original FOIL request: https://eastriverparkaction.org/value-engineering/
Baruch statistics: https://popfactfinder.planning.nyc.gov/profile/834/demographic
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